Thank you for contacting me to share your concerns about the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) enhanced pat-down procedures. I appreciate your taking the time to do so.
The TSA has implemented enhanced pat-down procedures for travelers who opt out of screening by whole-body scanning or Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) machines. I share the concerns of many passengers about privacy and the exposure to radiation associated with AITs.
On November 17, 2010, at a hearing on aviation security before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, where I serve as Ranking Member, I told TSA Administrator John Pistole that the TSA should consider adopting the AIT technology being used in the Netherlands. Using different software, those machines produce "stick -like," featureless images of passengers and indicate with a red box where concealed material is located on the body. This technology does not use images that have physical details of the passenger's body. In addition, this technology does not expose people to radiation, but is still able to effectively detect weapons or other dangerous materials.
I have spoken on numerous occasions to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and have urged her to look into the technology used at the Netherlands' Schiphol Airport, where, earlier this year, I received a briefing on those machines, which were installed in the wake of the airport's failure to detect the explosives on the Christmas Day terrorist. I also have asked that Secretary Napolitano convene an independent review panel to consider the health effects of the AIT being used at American airports. I have enclosed copies of recent related letters for your review here.
DHS should seek to deploy the right mix of technology and techniques that are safe and effective and that minimize privacy concerns whenever possible. Please know I will continue to use my leadership position on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to press DHS on these matters.
Again, thank you for contacting me. I appreciate hearing from you.